Saving pilot Warren

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Former pilot Warren Janett is thankful for Ashburton Hospital's lifesaving treatment.

Aviation enthusiast Warren Janett says Ashburton medical professionals have saved his life on more than one occasion.

The latest was December 27 last year when he had a stroke.

“The doctor and nurses on duty that day were just amazing. They probably saved my life more than anything.”

The December stroke was his fourth in 20 years, but the most severe.

Warren lost sight in his right eye and the stroke quickly affected his body.

From first sensing something was wrong, to arrival at Ashburton Hospital via ambulance, he lost the ability to speak coherently – and think straight.

“It just got worse,” he said.

A blood clot was eventually found at the back of his head at the brain stem. A CT scan taken at the hospital in Ashburton, and visible to neurologist John Fink in Christchurch, was found immediately and staff locally gave clot-busting medicine to reverse the effects of the stroke.

But first they had to reverse the effects of his blood thinner, which slowed his heart. And that’s where it got interesting, he said.

There was a flurry of activity around him before clot-buster medicine was given.

“If we didn’t have this hospital here, I just wouldn’t have made it.”

Warren Janett, a former Mount Cook Airline purser/pilot, helped secure a vast range of memorabilia from the airline for the Ashburton Aviation Museum.

The severity and swiftness of Warren Janett’s stroke in December frustrated him.  Medical staff were asking questions but he could not remember, or speak coherently so they could not understand him.

He was full of praise for the staff who treated him, and grateful Ashburton had a hospital.

If he had needed to transfer to Christchurch, Warren doubted he would have made it. He would have certainly had longer-lasting side effects.

Five months on he is still dealing with tiredness from the stroke. Sometimes the wrong words come out, especially when he is tired.

Warren has stepped back from a few of his responsibilities in the community to give his brain time to recover. He did not seek re-election for the president’s role at the aviation museum at the recent annual general meeting. It has been taken on by new president Stephen Johnson.

Warren had been the club president for the past two years, and before that was club secretary for four years.

He has retained his role as a trustee of Mid Canterbury Children’s Day and is on the committee of the Ashburton Aviation Pioneers.

The day Warren had his stroke started like any other. He spent a couple of hours at the aviation museum guiding visitors, then visited a terminally-ill friend at Ashburton Hospital and went home to wife Jenny.

Within 45 minutes he was back at the hospital as a patient.

He had a disturbance in his right eye and started losing sight. He voiced concern to Jenny who phoned for an ambulance.

“By the time the ambulance arrived, I hardly knew my own name.”

Warren, 70, was a former Mount Cook Airlines purser/pilot but had his flying career grounded in 1986 due to health concerns.

He suffered his first stroke at age 50 – just five months after triple bypass surgery – and had to learn to function again.

Back then he spent seven weeks in hospital – a far cry from the two days he needed for the December event.

He instigated a stroke support group in Ashburton at the time, which he believed was still needed in the district.

“This time I’m much older and am very, very lucky. I’m proud we have got a hospital. I would be complaining if we didn’t have one.”